Teachers have varied reasons for attending RedforEd

Funding is just a small sample of what frustrates the teaching profession


Latin teacher Bill Gilmartim holds up a sign during last weeks RedforEd rally downtown.

Anna Eggers, co-editor-in-chief

Students across the state of Indiana dread one thing in particular about their school career — state standardized testing.

From when we’re in elementary school up until our senior year (if necessary), we’re bombarded with tests that take hours and purposefully try to trip us up. These tests slowly become more important, until our graduation depends on us passing specific topics when we might just excel elsewhere. 

As we grow older, the shocking realization that many of us have faced is that teachers hate this testing as much as we do — and our scores possibly affect them more than they affect us. Because our state spends so much on prioritizing years of testing, funding has been drained from other areas to a point where teachers are completely run dry.

As we watch funding to public schools falter, we’ve also noticed a disparity in funding to types of schools — that leaves us public schools to slowly go broke.

In an attempt to reach out to lawmakers and convince them to make a change to this unforgiven system, teachers gathered last Tuesday to air their concerns and make their voices be heard. With a turnout of more than 15,000 teachers, students, and other community members, lawmakers definitely took notice.

Now, moving forward from the event, we have to keep the pressure and remind them why this rally happened. Many teachers from Ben Davis attended the event, and all of them had their own reasons to advocate.

Testing has become a big business and constantly shifting formats create uncertainty and apprehension among our learning communities. American education — American PUBLIC EDUCATION — proved very successful throughout the 20th century, without today’s testing-mania,” world language teacher Bill Gilkmartin said. “The shift of funding from Public to Charter and Private schools is undermining public education by robbing it of the resources it needs to serve our ever-changing population.

French teacher Brayton Mendenhall listens intently to the RedforEd speeches.

“Public schools serve EVERYONE, and as such they have been the foundation of our democracy.  I fear this current trend will have an erosive effect on that democracy.”

Testing was just one of the reasons teachers headed downtown.

“For me personally, I am very much opposed to the 15 hours of externship,” French teach Brayton Mendenhall said. “With my second job, and the already required professional development necessary to renew my license, this additional mandate is unfair and unnecessary.

“Additionally, I am frustrated with our legislators twisting of the truth in terms of how teachers are paid.  Many legislators want to point to the local school districts’ allocation of funds as the reason why teacher compensation has not improved; however, many public school districts across Indiana have received fewer and fewer funds from the state to work with while the funding of charter and private schools has increased.”

Other teachers agreed.

Business teacher Lisa Bugay made her way to stage to take photos during the RedforEd rally.

We spend so much funding on testing that it’s ridiculous,” social studies teacher Mike Vetter said. “Indiana spends over $100 million on standardized testing that could be used for better purposes. There needs to be something to hold students and teachers accountable, but standardized testing is not the answer. The only people benefiting from these standardized tests are the testing companies.”

“Testing drains the kids that have to do it,” social studies teacher Robert Lewis said. “As soon as I hand out a pass you can see it in their faces, it’s like a punch in the gut.

“The funding issue is something that might not be obvious to most, but you can see the effects coming. Class sizes are increasing, obligations are increasing, and the ones making policy decisions for teachers throughout the state are not teachers. That is like me making policy decisions for doctor licensing in Indiana just because I made it my power to be able to do it.”

Pullquote Photo

Testing drains the kids that have to do it. As soon as I hand out a pass you can see it in their faces, it’s like a punch in the gut.”

— Robert Lewis

Math teacher Jessica Breedlove has seen the affects of funding firsthand.

“Having taught in different districts over the years, funding affected me in 2014 when I was RIF-ed (reduction in force) like a layoff from a very small district in a different county,” Breedlove said. “Many teachers want to learn more, but whether it’s how to ‘stop the bleed,’ learn about different careers through an externship, or just simply curate our own content, all expectations of a school district or an individual teacher, or student, must be funded to be effective, including the cost of substitutes, the training, the time necessary to make any ideological learning of the above be effective.”

No matter what someone’s reasoning was to attend the Red for Ed rally, everyone was astounded by the amount of support that they saw. Standing in a sea of red knowing that everyone else understood the struggles of being spread too thin but also having too much love for your students to start slacking- and for one day, we had a little bit more hope.